When I contacted Diane Morasco for an interview she replied she was off the grid until late spring. I emailed her after hearing she was returning to the studio to make music. She responded she was still off the grid creating. Diane Morasco is always creating so you have to go to her. I found out she was the keynote speaker at a women’s event during Eating Disorder Awareness Week. I sent an email telling her I was driving six hours to hear her speak. She answered “Is that code for wanting to speak with me?” I emailed back “Yes, Ms. Morasco.” She wrote “Are you coming from the city or Jersey?” I laughed as I answered “Brooklyn.” She answered “Haven’t found a bialy or knish here. Just sayin’!” She had me truly laughing out loud. “I will bring them fresh from the corner bakery.” “Ya have a deal, Ivan. I will see you Thursday. No cream cheese. Salted butter with Olive Oil, please.” I still smile over the exchange.
The first thing you notice when you meet New York City born and Long Island raised Diane Morasco is the power her presence commands. She has the “it” factor many spend their whole lives searching for or wishing for. The irony is, Morasco doesn’t even realize how captivating she is. When she speaks, people listen and move in closer, it is this very magic this beautiful woman possesses.
Morasco rolls her eyes and says in her distinct voice mixed with New York, New Jersey and something unidentifiable. If you listen closely there seems to be a hint of southern dialect in her accent, which is hilarious to Morasco since she has no ties to the good ‘ole south she states in a pretty good southern accent. I want to comment but am not sure if I should when Morasco tilts her head and makes a face. Morasco was about to spend the rest of her life with a man from Texas so I am sure their accents rubbed off on each other. I comment on this fact and watch Morasco carefully as she responds. “There is a part of me, probably the Jersey branches, that wants to answer who but I know that wouldn’t be authentic. Yes, someone I used to know was from Texas by way of Florida.” Ouch. I know I wouldn’t want to be acknowledged as “someone I used to know” from a previous relationship but to know this comes from the alluring Diane Morasco has to sting. Deep. I admit this to her. She recoils but instead of striking, she remains silent. I play my cards and tell her my observation.
She remains silent for a few more seconds and answers, “I do not mix my private life with my professional life. I need something sacred, yet when I released ‘Even Tough Women Can Crack Like Eggs Sometimes’ both lives blended. I had to write it because everyone, the industry especially, believed I was living happily-ever-after with him. I wasn’t. I was fighting his demons. Ivan, the booze, drugs, hood mentality, mental illness, and the abuse were demons I battled every frigging day. I could not stand his hoodlum ways. He used to run the streets before we were together because that is the life he came from. He would say I was entitled, I was spoiled, and I was a bitch when he wanted to do things that weren’t aligned with my spirit. I grew up around addicts. Good gravy, Long Island has gangs. I went to school with guys and girls that were starting to get caught up in the gang color nonsense but they didn’t bring that to me. I didn’t care what they did. I only cared about who they were. I am still the same cookie cake I was. Ivan, darkness cannot stand light. It becomes agitated. It becomes dangerous especially when spirits are restless. I have to remind myself not everyone has good inside of them. I have to remind myself not to make angels out of demons. And, Ivan, I must remember Satan was once an angel.
Am I entitled? Yes. I am entitled to have a chaos free zone. Am I spoiled? Yes. My grandparents are to blame. I believe they were making amends for getting lost in bottles and cans filled with John Barley Corn and whatever distilled beverage they drowned their wounds in with their own children by making me the center of their world. When I came along, Ivan, I believe in my heart they wanted a better life for me than what they gave their kids. I was their chance to apologize to God for how they were with my mom, aunts and uncles. My grandparents were the foundation I learned from. I love the smell of a bar because it reminds me of them. As a kid, I used to go with them to the bar. Yep, Ivan, I know, that is some dysfunctional, twisted bitter honey, but it is what it is. However, the smell of beer sickens me because it conjures up memories of my uncle and all those drunken times he mauled me. The scent of beer on a man triggers all those times that parasite touched me. Anyway, there ya have it.
As for being spoiled, I deserve to be pampered so I handle it myself. I don’t want anyone to ever hold anything over my head. Someone I used to know spoiled me by cooking for me and bringing me flowers, so it was kind of a double-edged sword to hear I was spoiled with venom dripping from his sneering lips. I was not a woman who liked receiving flowers until him. He even snuck into yards to get them for me. See? Hoodlum habits with my flowers.” She winks and laughs her infectious laugh. Her laughter is music. I remember when Julia Roberts was the only one with a unique laugh, but for those fortunate to hear Morasco laugh, it is clear Morasco is the winner if there ever was a contest and her sensual voice is the icing on the cake. When I point this out she shakes her head and breaks out in a huge smile revealing a lovely set of dimples on her face and in her chin. I lean in closer mesmerized at the dimple that seems to be playing hide and seek. I comment on it. She stiffens. I notice her eyes are moist. “I remember every time my mom pointed it out to me. I am the only one to have dimples and the cleft chin. It would make me feel uncomfortable. I hated people commenting on my looks. After the sexual abuse started, along with my eating disorder, at the age of nine, Ivan, I detested my appearance. I didn’t want men to look at me. I abhorred being called exotic.
My grandparents’ offspring were cruel to me because of my paternal DNA. I had nothing to do with that. I was told he raped my German and Irish mom. I was a result of that violence. He was African American and Puerto Rican. Painfully, they used the n word. I didn’t know what it was but it made me feel ashamed and worthless. As soon as my grandma passed away, Ivan, I was made aware I was the thing they were most ashamed of. A thing. I was not a human to them. I was their disgrace. Their harsh words left welts that are seared in. It is with me every frigging day. I know they were ignorant then and still are. I was told I was a mistake. I was told I was unwanted. I was told I should have never been born. I was told I should have died during birth. I was told they wished I was dead. Despite what they wanted, God had the final word. He saved my life when the crazies attempted to give my mom a homemade abortion. The day I was born my mom’s sister-in-law had a man from an adoption agency bring the documents for my mom to sign. She told my mom he needed her to sign my birth certificate. It was precisely at that moment, God’s timing, my grandma strolled in. My grandma wanted to see her ‘precious miracle’ and both the man and her daughter-in-law were tossed out on their arse. My mom told me my grandma went ballistic both in English and in German. Not good, Ivan, not good for them. Although, I could imagine my uncle’s wife clutching her frigging mink shawl as she bolted to the nearest water fountain to down a few sedatives. Good gravy, Ivan, a frigging mink collar in July! Seriously? A sweet, defenseless dead animal hanging from her neck? For what? Barbaric fashion? What in blazes? Savage. My grandma did not make me feel anything but love. I wish I could say that about her daughter, my mom.
Anyway, God delivered me two weeks early to get the party started. Ivan, I must admit, I have often wondered if it was the man down below to stir stuff up. I was conceived on Halloween. My DNA loved terrorizing me with that. You can’t have good without evil. You cannot have light without darkness. You cannot heal without being smashed open. We need the balance. We were given the gift of choice. Our choices either elevate us or bury us. In my spirit, I know it was The Almighty. My mom’s family would torment me and say I was the devil’s kid. I was terrified. I thought I was filled with evil inside, so when I stroll on the dark side, Ivan, I have to remind myself I am the cookie cake who resembles a sky full of stars during the darkest of times and not evil incarnate.” She winks and kicks her feet. I am smitten. I have no doubt that is one of her superpowers. I tell her this and she shakes her head. “Nope. I do not have any superpower but if I did, Ivan, it would be to infuse this planet with unconditional love. I believe with unconditional love the world would be what God intended it to be. There would be no abuse, no animal abuse, no bullying, no child abuse, no cruelty, no domestic violence, no homelessness, no hunger, no suicide, and no violence. Since that isn’t happening yet, it starts with me. I am unconditional love. I have not experienced it so I give it. I receive it from my Heavenly Father, Gin, Hope and Zeus, my trio of blessings, but have yet to find a human bold enough to love me without conditions, aside from my grandma. Although, The Prince was the first but we all know how that turned out, now don’t we?” She rolls her eyes and sighs.
I ask if there has been any further contact with her first love, Freddy. She shakes her head. “Nope. We last had contact in 2013. I know it broke his heart to know I wanted to settle down and spend my life with someone that wasn’t him. I broke his heart when we were kids and when we were adults. It hurts to know I inflicted so much pain. I couldn’t be with him when his drinking became unmanageable and when pills entered his life. I couldn’t. I didn’t want to become my grandma or my aunts. I didn’t want my wings clipped. I didn’t want to be tossed in a cage being a frigging housewife on Long Island. I was not made that way. I was designed a wanderer with an inferno in my spirit. Funny thing is, my grandpa was called a rolling stone. I guess I get that from him. It wasn’t until someone I used to know landed in my sphere and I wanted to nest. Illusion. Now, Ivan, all I want is to live on the beach, create and wander the world with my octane fueled energy. I will be traveling with my music partner Star at the end of the year doing the music thing, so I am over the moon for that. Our Bronx artistry and Jersey roots have expanded beyond music to other avenues. The universe is returning me to where I have always wanted to be. I needed the roadblocks to appreciate the gifts I have been given with a ruptured soul, Ivan, to fully know who I am. I needed to know God spiritually, not the religious deity from my Roman Catholic upbringing. I will admit, saying this during Lent has my Roman Catholic girl guilt waiting for the thunder and lightning but I know He is not to be feared. I was always in Penance during Catechism. I spoke my mind. I asked questions. I was told I would go to Hell for speaking my mind. I would laugh and fling back that I was already there with them as my family. Yes, I have a sharp tongue. Ivan, it was barbed wire. I had to learn how to survive around them. They knew my weakness was my heart and animals, so I became an arctic fortress. A sharp blade of ice. I learned not to let anyone see my weakness, I learned not to trust and I learned to assassinate with my mouth. I am not proud of those days. It was my defense mechanism. It got me through. I would not stop until I felt their pain and just before I let up, Ivan, I would go in for the kill and bring them to tears. and hit a home run by digging the blade deeper. I wanted them to stop slicing me so I slashed back. I know hurt people hurt people. I was a child being punctured by adults and that was atrocious. I learned this from the uncle who sexually tortured me. He was a vicious monster. I learned at a young age not to beat him, not to become like him with his cruel demeanor but to surpass him.” I watch the dam burst as tears fall. I notice her shaking. I am in awe of her courage. It is at this very moment I see the most beautiful woman in the world. I tell her. “How peculiar, Ivan, the ugliest parts of my life are beautiful to you.”
I ask if she has contact with those family members who made her life hell. “I only have ties to my mom’s younger sister. I was appointed my aunt’s legal guardian nearly fifteen years ago, Ivan. I was barely twenty-five. I did not want to be. I wondered why my mom wasn’t appointed her guardian. I was resentful. I was ticked off. I knew this was what God orchestrated. I was angry at Him. I knew He had his reasons but come on now. I volleyed with God over this but knew deep down it was a teaching moment. He wanted me to learn something. I am sure He wanted to stick my rump in detention but instead I prayed more. I asked for awareness, for forgiveness, for guidance, and for a kinder, softer heart. I asked my Heavenly Father to remove the chains that kept me shackled to anger and resentment. It became stronger after my mother’s untimely death. My mom and aunt went out to get dinner for us and my mom did not come back. My mom was taken away from me. I was stuck with my aunt, yes, stuck, with my aunt without my mommy. Yet I knew. I knew God wanted me to get it right, whatever right was, between me and my aunt. The anger and resentment was rancid before my mom died. When she was gone, Ivan, I could not bear to look at her, hear her voice or even be around her. It was torture to my soul. Someone I used to know understood and let me retreat to process what happened. My mom didn’t make it, but my aunt did. No, I didn’t want her dead, I just wanted my ma here. The resentment was a rapid cancer to my being, it was acid on my soul. My spirit was deteriorating because I still had stuff I didn’t examine. I had work to do. A lot in this area. God had to get my attention. If I do not listen and I do it my way, He will remind me and it will be absolute agony. God doesn’t give me the agony, I bring it to myself. I create it by taking control of something I have no control over.
Miraculously, the resentment with my aunt dissipated. I don’t know when exactly it was lifted. I do know it occurred after I realized Saint Jeremy kept appearing in my life at the oddest of moments. God wanted to get my attention so my Heavenly Father kept making Saint Jeremy’s presence known. I wondered what the heck was this about. I asked God. He answered that night. He placed Saint Jeremy directly in my path. I believe God was preparing Divinity or Angel Food cake. I can’t explain it beyond that. Apparently, Saint Jeremy needed to know me too. Ivan, there was a shift in my foundation. I noticed a lightness in my spirit. I knew the ties that chained me to the past were finally removed. I will still be irascible because I am human. If I claimed otherwise I would be rinsing my mouth out with soap. The beauty of all this is to learn from my mishaps and grow into the spirit I was created to be. Ivan, I will always be grateful to Saint Jeremy for infusing me with such a miraculous healing light. It has been an exhausting terrain to travel but it was the path I had to take to be here. It was set in stone for me to get to know Saint Jeremy at this exact time and place. I will always be grateful to Saint Jeremy.” I hear gratitude in her voice, I see it in her eyes, I watch the light she has get brighter. “I had no idea, Ivan, I would get here in this lifetime. Nope, I did not. There have been years and years and years of resentment pocketed in the deepest recesses of me but God set me in the path of Saint Jeremy. It is my deepest prayer to honor and thank my Heavenly Father and Saint Jeremy with my actions and not my words. Although, I don’t refer to him as Saint Jeremy, Ivan. I call him Grace and Salvation. My Grace and Salvation.” She winks.
I study her face carefully as I tell her she was put on this earth to make a difference. I notice tears fill her eyes as she remains silent. I tell her I have read about people as courageous as she is but have never met anyone as courageous until her. “Really, Ivan?” She stares at me. “Are ya serious or are ya flirting?” She smiles and her dimples all come out to play.
Ms. Morasco has asked me to end the interview here so she doesn’t bring the past agony into the miracles she is experiencing today. I happily agree with a second interview.
Ivan Berrios, SUNY Old Westbury
With change, comes change.